Four Delaware farm families honored for 100 years of farm ownership

MEDIA: Photographs from the event are available at Flickr. 

DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Department of Agriculture honored four Delaware’s farm families for their continued commitment to farming the same land for a century or more. 

“Our Century Farms are extremely important and they help tell a story about the history of Delaware and about what agriculture means to this state,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “From the early 1600’s to today, during the transitions from one type of agriculture to another, and through the many challenges our producers have faced… they have been able to keep agriculture going and continue to be the number one industry in the state.”

The Delaware Century Farm Program was established in 1987 to honor farming families who have owned and farmed their land for at least 100 years. The farms must include at least 10 acres of the original parcel or gross more than $10,000 annually in agricultural sales. Including this year’s inductees, the program has honored 143 farms throughout Delaware.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year, as we recognize families who have persevered for at least 100 years in the farming profession. I think that is truly a remarkable accomplishment,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Austin Short. “Farming is hard enough year-to-year, much less for a hundred years through multiple generations. The fact that we have four families today who have achieved the Century Farm recognition – in some cases, more than a hundred years – is a terrific achievement.”

2018 Delaware Century Farm Awardees: 

Michael and Iris McCabe and Family (Millsboro, Sussex County): The McCabe family is recognized for their 100-acre family farm located in the Dagsboro Hundred west of Dagsboro.  

Garrison McCabe from Roxana purchased 100 acres in 1914 for $2,200. Mr. McCabe and his wife Martha had eight children – five sons and three daughters – and one of their sons, John F. McCabe, purchased the farm from his parents in 1918. The farm passed to John’s widow, Ella, in 1960. Upon Ella’s death in 1963, their son Clarence and his wife Anna inherited the farm. Clarence died in 1979 whereupon Anna owned the farm in entirety until her death in 2006 when the farm was purchased by their son Michael and his wife Iris, who still own the farm today. Their son Brandon, the great-great grandson of Garrison, and his family now live in the house that was built by John F. McCabe in 1920.

Over the last 100 years the McCabe farm has yielded wheat, corn, soybeans, and vegetables. Additionally, the farm produced poultry, swine, and cattle in the past. The McCabe family now farms over 1,200 acres in Sussex County.

Mark Mihalik and Family (Oak Haven Farm, Bridgeville, Sussex County): The Mihalik family if recognized for their 50-acre family farm located in Nanticoke Hundred east of Greenwood in Sussex County.  

Leroy and Bertha Webb of Greenwood purchased approximately 50 acres in April 1915 for $750. Mr. and Mrs. Webb had six children – three sons and three daughters – and one of their sons, Woodrow Webb and his wife Florence, purchased 48 acres of the farm from his parents in August 1960. Woodrow and Florence purchased the other two acres in December 1960 from Woodrow’s niece (she and her husband acquired the 2 acres earlier that year). Woodrow died in 1997 and Florence transferred 2 acres to Mark Mihalik (their grandson). Florence transferred an additional 5 acres to Mark in 2006 and the remaining acreage in 2017; therefore Mark now owns the entire original farm. 

Over the last 100 years the Mihalik-Webb farm has yielded corn, soybeans, vegetables, and timber. Mark and his family now live on the farm as well. 

Craig and Connie Mumford Truitt (Seaford, Sussex County): The 50-acre Truitt family farm is located in the Broad Creek Hundred, east of Seaford in Sussex County.  

Allison Henry Mumford purchased approximately 50 and 120 square perches on January 2, 1918 for $1,218.50. In May 1918, Mr. Mumford purchased an adjoining farm totaling 29 acres and 42 square perches for $877.88. Mr. Mumford and his wife Minnie had two children – Helen and Roland – and Roland and his wife Myrtle acquired the farm in 1947. Roland and Myrtle’s daughter, Connie Truitt, acquired Roland’s ½-interest in the farm upon his death in 1995 and her mother’s ½-interest in 2002. Connie and her husband Craig now own the farm as part of Mumford & Truitt Farms, LLC.

Over the last 100 years the farm has yielded corn, soybeans, wheat, cantaloupes, strawberries, sweet corn, and watermelons. The farm also produces broilers. In addition to the poultry houses, the buildings on the farm include a former livestock barn, pole shed, machinery shed, farm shop, old corn crib, and the house where Connie and Craig now live. Another interesting fact is that Connie’s father, Roland Mumford, operated a Massey Ferguson dealership on the farm from 1958 to 1963.

Thomas and Elizabeth Warren and Family (Georgetown, Sussex County): The fourth family to honor today with the Century Farm Award is the Warren family for their 112-acre family farm located in the Nanticoke Hundred west of Georgetown.  

In 1871, Hiram Isaacs acquires 122 acres and 23 square perches from his father’s (Minos Isaacs) estate for $704.55. Although it has not been verified, it is believed that Minos Isaacs acquired this farm in 1846 or perhaps earlier. Hiram and his wife Maria sold the farm in 1908 to his sister Sarah and her husband Elzey Wilson. In 1912, Elzey and Sarah sell the farm to their son Joshua Wilson and his wife Anna. Joshua died in 1957 and Anna in 1972, whereupon it transferred to their son Sudler Wilson. Following Sudler’s death in 1997, the farm was managed by his son Nelson as part of Sudler’s estate and subsequently 112 acres of the original farm was transferred to Nelson’s son, Thomas, in 2002. 

 Over the last 100 years the Warren farm has yielded wheat, corn, soybeans, and timber. Currently, Thomas and his wife Liz and their children live on the farm where their children raise sheep. Elzey and Joshua Wilson also operated a sawmill on the farm in the early 1900s. 

Delaware Century Farm families receive a sign for their farms, an engraved plate, and legislative tributes. According to Brandon McCabe, “We are going to be super-proud to put that sign out front. It shows the county and the area that we have been here for a hundred years and we are going to be here for years into the future. As long as it’s financially feasible, we are going to keep doing it.”

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302)698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


DelDOT and Delaware Dept. of Agriculture Urge Drivers to Be Cautious When Sharing the Road with Farm Equipment

Harvest Time Means Slow-Moving and Large Agricultural Vehicles Will Be on Delaware Roads

DOVER — DelDOT and the Department of Agriculture are urging Delaware drivers to be alert for the presence of agricultural equipment on roads and to practice safe road-sharing techniques when encountering them.

The state is the midst of harvest season and farmers are moving large tractors, trailers, trucks and other large equipment on state roads as they move between fields or to equipment staging areas.

Farm equipment operators that are on the road understand that their presence can delay your trip and will often pull off the road at the first available safe location to allow you to pass. Don’t assume, however, that the farmer can move aside to let you pass wherever there is open space. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, and pulling off the road could cause the farm vehicle to tip, or the shoulder or soil may not be able to support the heavy weight of the equipment.

If you encounter a wide vehicle, please yield. On rural roads, some farm equipment may be wider than the lane of travel. If you approach a piece of wide farm equipment traveling in the opposite direction on a rural road and you cannot pass safely, stop. Then consider your safest alternative: Either pull off the road, safely turn around or back up to a location that will allow the equipment to pass.

Never assume the driver of farm equipment knows you are there. Most operators of farm equipment will regularly check to see if there is traffic behind them. However, the farmer must spend most of the time looking ahead to keep the equipment safely on the road, and to watch for oncoming traffic.

Remember that farm equipment is very loud, and the farmer will probably not be able to hear your vehicle. Therefore, do not assume that the farmer knows where your vehicle is located. Before attempting to pass, be sure you have a clear line of sight down the road ahead and there is no oncoming traffic. If you are in an area where passing is allowed, use your car’s horn to signal to the farmer that you are there and then pass with caution. Do not pass if you are in a designated “No Passing Zone” or within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure or tunnel. Also, be watchful of vehicles behind you that may also try to pass.

Do not assume that a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right or is letting you pass. Due to the size of some farm implements, the farmer must execute wide left-hand turns. If you are unsure, check the operator’s hand signals and check the left side of the road for gates, driveways or any place a farm vehicle might turn.

While driving on rural roads, you may encounter farm equipment at any time. This equipment comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes you will see a single vehicle, such as a tractor or combine. Other times the equipment will consist of a tractor with an implement in tow. Farm equipment is designed to be used primarily in a field and is not designed to travel at typical highway speeds. Most farm equipment is designed to travel at speeds of 15-25 miles per hour. If you’re driving 55 mph and come upon a tractor that’s moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field between you and the tractor.

Just as motorists are entitled to operate their vehicles on public roadways, farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on these same roadways.

Tips for Farmers

Farmers have a role in road safety too. Following this safety advice will help:

• Place a slow moving vehicle reflector triangle on any machine that travels the road slower than 25 mph.

• Always point the triangle up, keep the emblem clean to maximize reflectivity, and replace the emblem when it fades, normally every 2-3 years.

• Mark the edges of tractors and machines with reflective tape and reflectors.

• Consider installing retrofit lighting on older machinery to increase visibility.

• Turn on your lights, but turn off rear spotlights when going onto the road. From a distance they can be mistaken for headlights.

• Avoid the highway during rush hours and bad weather. To increase visibility, it is best not to drive before sunrise or after sunset.

• Use pilot cars, one in front and one in back if you are going a considerable distance. Hang an orange flag out the window of these pilot vehicles.

• Consider installing mirrors on equipment to enable you to be aware of motorists around you.

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Media Contacts: Dan Shortridge, Department of Agriculture, (302) 698-4520; Sandy Roumillat, DelDOT, (302)760-2080


Four family farms honored as Delaware Century Farms

Photos are available for media use on Flickr.

DOVER – Four families which have owned their farms for at least 100 years were honored as owners of Century Farms on Tuesday in a ceremony honoring Delaware agriculture’s long heritage and historic roots.

“Delaware’s agricultural success rests on the shoulders of our farm families, more than 2,400 strong, many of which have worked the land for generations,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “These families we honor today are the personification of the virtues of hard work, dedication and innovation that have made our industry so strong. I hope that their children and grandchildren continue in that long tradition of excellence.”

The inductions into the Century Farms Program bring the total number of farms recognized to 129, said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Austin Short, who heads DDA’s Planning and Preservation Section. The Century Farm Awards have been presented annually since 1987.

“These farms are all active and working, producing fruit, vegetables, grain, livestock and poultry and contributing to Delaware’s $1.3 billion agricultural economy,” Short said. “We look forward to adding even more farms to this distinguished list in the years to come, and for all of our Century Farms to thrive and become 200-year farms.”

The families recognized Tuesday at the Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village included:

>> The Malfitano family (Joseph M. Malfitano), which owns a 56.5-acre farm near Greenwood, in the family since 1913 and now producing vegetables, fruit, soybeans and corn.

>> The Cook family (Mr. and Mrs. H. Wallace Cook Jr.), which owns a 109-acre farm near Newark, in the family since 1855 and now producing dairy, corn, soybean, wheat, alfalfa, beef and pork.

>> The Peterson family (Charles, Andrew and Brian Peterson), which owns a 31.5-acre farm near Bridgeville, in the family since 1909 and now producing corn and soybeans.

>> The Hudson family (Margaret T. Hudson, Jeffrey M. Hudson and Gregrey N. H udson), which owns a 300-acre farm near Millsboro, with the original 132-acre parcel in the family since 1908. The farm now produces corn, soybeans, wheat and poultry.

Legislative tributes were also presented from state Sens. Gary Simpson, Brian Pettyjohn, Gerald Hocker, Bruce Ennis and Bethany Hall-Long, and from state Reps. Dave Wilson, John Atkins, Earl Jacques and Harvey Kenton. Also in attendance were Reps. Bobby Outten and William Carson.

Century Farms must have been farmed by the same family for at least 100 years and must include at least 10 acres of the original parcel or gross more than $10,000 annually in agricultural sales.

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Media contact:

Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520
daniel.shortridge@delaware.gov


Agricultural scavenger hunt new this year at Delaware State Fair

HARRINGTON — Visitors to the Delaware State Fair can learn about farming, explore the fair and win prizes this year with the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s new Fair Scavenger Hunt. Families can search for answers in the fair’s animal barns, on equipment row, and in the DDA buildings, gaining a deeper understanding of the importance of agriculture along the way.

“We have an exciting lineup of fun activities and educational programs this year,” said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “All of our visitors should find something of interest at the fair.”

The scavenger hunt is designed for all ages, with one entry form allowed per family. Copies can be found across the fairgrounds at information kiosks and in the DDA buildings, located between the Kent Barn and the Simpson Building, where families can turn in their completed forms.

All completed entries will receive a 75-cent-off coupon for either a milkshake at the Delaware Farm Bureau concession stand or an ice cream at the UDairy Creamery’s Moo Mobile.

A grand-prize drawing will be held at the end of the fair, with winners eligible to receive one of five grand prizes: Two tickets each to the March of Dimes’ Farmer and The Chef South (August 28) and Farmer and The Chef Wilmington (September 18); a free Christmas tree, courtesy of the Delaware Christmas Tree Growers’ Association; a $50 gift card to Fish On Bar & Grill in Lewes; and a turkey deep fryer, five gallons of soybean oil and a gift certificate to T.A. Farms, courtesy of the Delaware Soybean Board. Winners need not be present to win.

This year’s Department of Agriculture programs also include a live crop display, featuring corn, wheat, soybeans and trees, and a jam-packed schedule of cooking demonstrations. Both DDA buildings offer air conditioning for fairgoers to cool off on hot days.

Starting Friday, July 18, DDA and its partners will offer a lineup of free food and cooking demonstrations every day of the fair in the Education Building, with plenty of comfortable seating so visitors can relax.
The Department’s Commodities Building, next door, features a variety of informational exhibits and activities sponsored by farm groups and other organizations to educate the public about their livelihoods.

The demonstrations, conducted by Delaware agricultural groups, Cooperative Extension, farmers and Department of Agriculture staffers, take place each day of the fair from July 18 to 26. They include:

Friday, July 18
Noon: Money in the Kitchen, Kristen Homan
2 p.m.: Tasty Hulk Smoothies & Watermelon Cake, DSU Extension
4 p.m.: Honey Extraction, Delaware Beekeepers Association

Saturday, July 19
Noon: Giant Ice Cream Sundaes, Delaware Dairy Princess Committee
2 p.m.: Water Buffalo Cooking, farmer Patt Wagner
4 p.m.: Grillin’ and Chillin’, Chef Kevin Reading, Abbott’s Grill

Sunday, July 20
Noon: Home Brewing 101, Dan Woodall, DDA
3 p.m.: Fish On/Fifer Orchards Cooking
5 p.m.: Top Butcher & Chef Larry Mola

Monday, July 21
Noon: Cooking Local, Simple & Seasonal, Chef Ronnie Burkle, Matt Haley Companies
2 p.m.: Food Seriously, Caneel Radinson
4 p.m.: Giant Ice Cream Sundaes, Delaware Dairy Princess Committee

Tuesday, July 22
Noon: Easy Summer Chicken, Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.
2 p.m.: Wet & Wild Watermelon Salsa & Watermelon Cake, Mar-Del Watermelon Association
4 p.m.: Easy Veggie Scramble/4-H Food Smart Families, UD Cooperative Extension

Wednesday, July 23
Noon: Watermelon Salsa & Watermelon Cake, Mar-Del Watermelon Association
2 p.m.: Canning Salsa & Freezing Essentials, Part 1, UD Cooperative Extension
4 p.m.: Canning Salsa & Freezing Essentials, Part 2, UD Cooperative Extension

Thursday, July 24
11 a.m.: Perdue Farms/DuPont Plenish Soybean Oil Cooking, Chef Chris Moyer
Noon: Perdue Farms/DuPont Plenish Soybean Oil Cooking, Chef Chris Moyer
2 p.m.: Fixing It Fresh, T.S. Smith & Sons
4 p.m.: Garden Smart, Garden Easy, UD Cooperative Extension

Friday, July 25
Noon: Beef for Dinner with Nage & T.A. Farms
2 p.m.: Water Buffalo Cooking, farmer Patt Wagner
4 p.m.: Honey Extraction, Delaware Beekeepers Association

Saturday, July 26
Noon: Broccoli Black Bean Quesadillas, UD Cooperative Extension
2 p.m.: 4-H Fun Family Fitness Tips, 4-H/Cooperative Extension
4 p.m.: 4-H State Demonstration Winners, 4-H/Cooperative Extension

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Media contact:

Dan Shortridge, Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520
daniel.shortridge@delaware.gov


Delaware farmers’ markets set new sales record: $2.1 million

Photos are available for media use on Flickr.

DOVER – Delaware’s community farmers’ markets set a new sales record in 2013, with shoppers buying more than $2.1 million in fresh produce and other goods, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee announced the news at an annual farmers’ market managers’ meeting in Dover, praising their work and the work of the many growers and producers who sell at the markets.

“This record-setting year is a perfect example of what can happen when communities, business and government work together to increase economic opportunities and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Gov. Markell said. “These markets offer Delaware’s best farm-fresh products to consumers and create vibrant gathering spots in our towns and cities.”

The markets help support farmers by offering another sales outlet, but also by directly connecting growers and consumers, Kee said.

“Interest in healthy eating and local foods has been dramatically on the rise in Delaware. There is no better way to encourage that than by giving shoppers the opportunity to have conversations with the men and women who nurture and grow their corn, lettuce, sweet potatoes, watermelons and apples,” Kee said. “This success is directly due to the leadership of our market managers and community leaders, and we want to help them expand and grow as we continue to move agricultural opportunities forward.”

Sales for 2013, which featured 26 markets in all three counties, passed $2.1 million, up $200,000 over 2012. Four years ago, the 2010 season had 14 market sites and $1.3 million in sales.

Produce made up 62 percent of the total sales, with the remainder coming from value-added products such as meats, cheeses, jellies, breads, salsa, eggs or honey.

Delaware’s farmers’ markets are all run at the local level, by municipalities, business groups, farmers or market associations, with the Delaware Department of Agriculture providing support and marketing assistance.

Use of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card system is growing steadily, allowing families to purchase local produce and food items as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Six markets offered transactions during 2013, for $2,300 in sales. The Wilmington Farmers Market at Cool Spring Park also had more than $9,000 in sales through its community-supported agriculture program made through the EBT network. Several other markets are planning to expand into the program in 2014.

The 2014 farmers’ market season will begin in April with the opening of the Milton market. Most markets start their operations in May, June and July. A full schedule will be released later this spring.

Farmers and others interested in becoming a vendor, or community groups interested in starting a local market, can contact Department of Agriculture marketing specialist David Smith at (302) 698-4522 or davidm.smith@delaware.gov.

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Contact:
Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520
daniel.shortridge@delaware.gov